March Returns

March picked up where February left off with a good flurry of returns as I’ve kept my sending rate up. When the lockout ended I got a bunch of spring training requests out and even got one back.

Ted Sizemore spent a dozen years in the majors. A couple pretty good years in the first half of his career, one of which resulted in him him winning he Rookie of the Year in 1969. He’s one of those guys who I’m aware of because many of his cards, including this one, features photos taken at Candlestick. This one came back in 23 days.

Gene Garber had a whopping 19-year career and had appeared in over 900 Major League games by the time he retired. While he spent the most years with Atlanta, by the time I was collecting he was with the Royals and had one of those card backs stuffed with stats that I loved to see when I was a kid. As with Sizemore these also came back in 23 days.

A quick 9-day return from Paul McClellan brought my first Giants cards of the month. He debuted in 1990 and appeared in over a dozen games in 1991. One of those names I definitely remember because of my peak fandom years. I appreciate that he signed these in silver even though neither of these cards needed it.

Len Gabrielson was a Giant for only a couple seasons. His 1966 season though involved him beating out the Orlando Cepeda as the starting left fielder.* Gabrielson bounced around the majors for most of the 1960s before finally sticking with the Dodgers for the last four years of his career. He signed with a nice personalization in 17 days.

*Cepeda’s bum knee was threatening to end his career and resulted in him being traded to St. Louis early in 1966.

It’s a little hard to read in the scan but Rick Leucken not only personalized my card he added two bible-related inscriptions. One, Romans 1:17, is pretty standard. The other says “Saved by Grace” but I totally read it as “Saved 34 Games” at first and was really confused since that’s neither something to brag about nor did he save anywhere near that number of games.

He only pitched for parts of 2 seasons but they just happen to cover my peak collecting years so I’ve got a bunch of dupes of him. This came back in 10 days.

An 11-day return from Mike Rochford who spent a couple of years with Boston before heading abroad to Japan. I’m meanwhile in the midst of hitting some of my 1990 Upper Deck duplicates since I accumulated a few during my set build.

I got back pair of Upper Decks in 9 days from Matt Young. Always nice to get a couple of teams. Young’s most notable achievement in baseball is that he’s a member of the “pitched a no-hitter and lost” fraternity. He lost a 2–1 game at Cleveland on April 12, 1992 in which he walked 7 guys and didn’t have to pitch the bottom of the 9th inning. He gave up one run to a walk, two stolen bases, and RBI ground out, and the other to two walks followed by two fielders’ choices.

Another 1989 Donruss dupe came back in the form of a 35-day return from Craig McMurtry., who has a pretty nice-looking signature. He was the runner-up to Darryl Strawberry for the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year Award and even picked up six first place votes.

Jack Brohamer’s claim to fame might be that he’s the only player to hit a home run while wearing shorts. He also shows up in a nice pair of cards in 1973 which have been of interest to the baseball card community in that they show two pars of the same play. I went with his pair of 1976 Topps cards which he returned to me in 34 days.

Xavier Hernandez was one of those prospects I remember from my youth. I remember him mainly as an Astro and had totally forgotten about him being a Blue Jay first. He sent these back in 12 days.

This looks like a huge return but it’s probably fake. Mike Schmidt has been a notorious ghost signer for years (and is apparently not particularly pleasant if he’s asked to sign for free in person either). Still, I figured it was worth a shot to see what happened. Wasn’t going to send any nice cards but a 1986 Topps duplicate (which reflects 1985 and might be the only year he shows up as a first baseman) is totally fine. 188 days later I got back what I’m assuming is a secretarial signature.

I’m not working 1991 Leaf but I have a bunch of them and occasionally raid the pile when I see returns from a guy. This Mark Lee is one such card and it came back in 38 days. Lee played in parts of four MLB seasons over eight years with 1991 being the year he played the most.

Pete O’Brien put together a respectable 12-year career, even earning five MVP voting points in 1986. I sent the Cleveland card since I’m going through my 1990 Upper Deck duplicates. I unfortunately did not have any Mariners cards to send him. This pair came back in 16 days.

I sent a bunch of customs to Spring Training as soon as the lockout ended. No idea what to expect but in only 11 days I got a return from Kervin Castro. He kept no duplicates but as one of those guys who just made his MLB debut and has no real cards out there, he’s exactly the kind of player I enjoy sending customs to. He’s one to watch and has the perfect name for a pitcher who relies on breaking balls.

Franklin Stubbs is one of those names which resonates from my youth. He was one of the Dodgers starters in my first MLB game and I definitely saw him multiple times at Candlestick.  He’s also a great TTM guy and sent these back in only 7 days.

I’m clearly also working my 1991 Upper Deck duplicates. Bill Sampen returned this in 7 days and added a great photo of the Expos road uniforms that I remember from my youth. The unique uniforms plus the extra national anthem combined to make Expos games always feel a little special.

I think I’d conflated Garth and Dane Iorg when I sent to Dane. (My brain now keeps making Dane and Garth in Dane’s World jokes) I realized I should get the pair to add to a passive collection of baseball family autographs that I’ve been building. Iorg is a fast signer and returned this in 7 days.

As these things go, I promptly got another family card in my next return. This time it’s a 10-day return from Gary Sutherland whose brother Darrell is part of my Stanford project. Since Gary went to USC there must have been some good school rivalry stuff going on between the two of them. Gary had a decent 13-year career and even scored the first run in Expos history.

While I knew Lee Elia as the Phillies manager, I had no choicebit to send him a 1983 card since his rant is legendary. I didn’t have the guts to ask him for a “print it” inscription but it’s definitely a fun card to have signed and anyone who knows, knows exactly why I selected it. Besides being a quick 8-day return, he also included an extra card from his time managing the Clearwater Phillies.

I found myself with a bunch of 1981 duplicates and figured I’d try sending those out. 1981 isn’t my favorite set but I like how it looks signed. Mike Tyson was somewhat of a defensive specialist in the 1970s with St. Louis. It felt weird sending him just a Cubs card so I pulled the much-nicer 1980 card out of my collection to go with it. I don’t normally like the double-signed look but every once in a while it’s nice to change things up. He’s a reliable signer and returned these in 8 days.

The next day I go another 1981 return, this time Craig Chamberlain in 9 days. Chamberlain had a short career but he started off with three complete game victories. This is kind of mind boggling when compared to the way today’s game is pitched.

The las return of the month is a 56-day one from David Segui. He had a nice 15-year career which started and ended in Baltimore. It’s been a while since I got a 1991 Studio card back and those are always nice to add to the collection.

All in all a very good month. With spring training winding down my single spring training return looks to have been a false alarm of sorts. I haven’t given up but I’m also not optimistic. At least the pipeline is full of other requests still so fingers crossed for April.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

4 thoughts on “March Returns”

  1. Kudos to Schmidt’s secretary… because that signature is really nice and looks similar to the autograph I own. Then again… maybe he had her/him sign his Upper Deck cards too.

  2. I’ll say that’s a good month. As usual, my favorites are the guys appearing on ’70s and ’80s cards (I know Craig Chamberlain but how do you?). Lots of Dodgers in that grouping, and I’ve even got a couple Franklin Stubbs cards signed.

    1. I’ve really just been going through my 70s and early 80s duplicates and pulling guys who sign. Is an interesting way to learn about a few players who I’d otherwise not be aware of.

  3. Ah, that’s why Sizemore is on my list! Kept forgetting why I stashed him in my stack. I guess I should bump him up. I lost a Segui , so maybe I should try him again too. McMurtry has a real nice signature, as does Sampen. I forgot I need the other Sutherland as well, and I guess I should add Matt Young to my list for the oddity. X-man used to live down the street from my high school girlfriend, I realized that when I wrote him in 2014 (he’s since moved). Just one man’s opinion, but you need to make a Swervin’ Kervin custom. *shrug emoji*

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